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Legislators, Energy Business Representatives, Lawyers and Think Tanks Discuss Opportunities Offered by Offshore Renwable Energy

Legislators, energy business representatives, lawyers, and think tanks Monday discussed opportunities offered by the development of offshore renewable energy projects in Bulgaria at a roundtable in Varna, on the Black Sea coast, said the Centre for the Study of Democracy (CED). 
The cost of offshore power by 2030 is estimated to be 1.5 to 2 times lower than that produced by new nuclear power capacity and more than 10 times lower than the cost of coal-fired power plants, CED said. By developing wind energy in the Black Sea, Bulgaria can unlock the potential of a new industry that will not only improve the country’s energy security and accelerate the energy transition but also create huge added value for the regional Black Sea economy. The estimated investment is between EUR 15 and 20 billion, with at least 27,000 new jobs created by 2035. Offshore wind farms will also push electricity prices down, reducing the need to consume expensive coal-fired or imported electricity. All this will contribute to the development of a number of industries in the local economy of the Black Sea municipalities, including shipbuilding, port infrastructure, logistics, and wind turbine assembly and maintenance. Black Sea ports will be instrumental in implementing the projects, attracting large investments, and improving the quality of operations of major logistics companies in the area, CED further said.
National Assembly Energy Committee Chair Delyan Dobrev highlighted the potential benefits for businesses from the development of offshore wind farms because “people get confused by the unjustified protests with political undertones”. In his words, offshore wind energy could help prevent Bulgaria from becoming a net importer of electricity.
Ivaylo Mirchev, member of the Energy Committee, talked of the need for an active dialogue with the public, stressing that its fears and concerns should not be used for ends that do not benefit the people. “Energy independence is a priority, and we view offshore wind as such,” he said, adding that people’s sharp reactions are used for political purposes.
Mirchev is among the authors of an offshore renewable energy bill that was passed by Parliament on first reading on January 25. The prospect of building offshore wind farms has drawn strong opposition among environmentalists, the fishing community and the local tourist business. GERB subsequently pulled out their support for the bill.
Speaking at the roundtable, WINDBG Training Centre Manager Onnik Merdinyan pointed to the lack of a sufficiently targeted awareness raising campaign about the benefits of offshore wind development, adding that this makes people susceptible to misinformation. He also stressed the importance of attracting well-trained technical staff who can share experience in the offshore industry in Western Europe with local businesses.